Here's Rick:

The first thing that came to mind was the French Revolution when trying to come up with the right/left definitions. Well done here PL. People don't really care what government they have as long as they feel safe, can be productive and can provide for their families. History proves this. The French Monarchy failed on all counts and that is why the revolt occurred.

Because the French set up in two extreme camps, as you mentioned, nothing that came out of the far right vs far left was lasting. Another revolution 4 years later, establishment of a republic, The Reign of Terror, Napoleonic Empires twice, interrupted by an invasion, and then a bunch more republics.

My point is that an extreme right or left is never lasting. Is it institutional or just bad people? There have been very successful monarchies/dictatorships that failed because of the change of leaders + then how the people were treated. Communist states flourished initially but couldn't succeed because of the greed + power that corrupted those leaders too.

Were does that leave America? A democratic republic, as PL rightly labeled our form of government. It is the longest lasting form of government in the world today. Does it have flaws? Yes. But what makes this government lasting is that the middle always rules. Yes we do have presidents who are right + left of center, but really center nonetheless. When one party goes too far in one direction BAM! we get the opposite leader to pull us back to the middle. FDR, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush II and Obama all benefited as candidates because the incumbents pulled us too far in one direction and the middle reacted.

So onto the challenge. I would argue that all of these men took this country to places that it had to go, toward the center. Some of these very men also pulled us too far right or left during their last term in office. If Obama's policies are true to the center, you will not see him seriously challenged in 2012 as there will be no need to "pull" us. If he go too far, conservative challengers will gain momentum to bring us back to the center.

Do you think England, France, Italy, Germany or any other "progressive" European nation would ever elect a black person as president? Any Asian country? Not a chance. Would an African nation, whose black majority can vote, elect a white leader? Doubt it. Yes they hail Obama's election but would never think of pulling the lever for a man of minority color in the voter's booth.

I'll take our system, with its flaws, as there is always the real opportunity for many sides to significantly influence the debate.

Here's PL:

Very interesting, Rick, and I do agree with much of what you're saying here. Progress, individually or collectively, is never a straight line up, and the pendulum swings - what I think of as the periods of expansion, contraction and rest - are all part of the equation of our evolution.

In terms of our own country, I would say that I, too, am optimistic about our potential for continued growth, and that the foundations laid down in our founding documents are an excellent guide for our development. But we have to be careful. We have not yet lived up to much of what is in those great contracts with ourselves, even after two hundred-plus years. As a relatively young nation, kind of in our maturational adolescence, our hubris could and does severely trip us up. Too many immature, self-proclaimed "real" Americans don't get that continually saying that we're "better" than other countries or peoples is asking for the hard lessons that must lead to humility and oneness.

Truly great nations don't need to continually say they're great.

Only insecure people or nations need to remind you of how great they are on a regular basis, and they tend to rely more on hype rather than deeds. Leaders lead by example. It is childish that the likes of Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney think it's a sign of weakness that Obama has acknowledged America's mistakes and apologized for them. It reminds me of the Fonz on "Happy Days," whose desperate need to appear cool made it impossible for him to say he was "wrrr... wrrrrr..." wrong!

A mature, confident person, or country, not only can admit their mistakes, but in so doing can learn and grow from them. If we can't admit mistakes, then we must assume we're done growing, right? This is the greatest pitfall or today's far right, and why their energy has become so stagnant. They are putrefying from their own resistance to change.

Okay, thanks for the ongoing dialogue, Rick. Thoughtful and stimulating and very worth having!

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